Purpose: Living with Distinction

How would you fish this section of Malden Creek? And is that snake on the rocks over there?...

How would you fish this section of Malden Creek? And is that snake on the rocks over there?...

Why are you special? What do you bring to the task at hand—life—that no one else brings?

In other words, if you were to get run over by a bus today, why would the world be a poorer place tomorrow?

These questions strike at the heart of purpose and meaning and why you exist. Whether you have thought about it or not, you have a need deep in your soul to believe you are important. In fact, if you will stop for a moment and take personal inventory, you can probably identify some of the things you think give you distinction.

There are people to love, children to be reared, projects to be developed, games to be played, homes to be managed, and empires to be run. Behind all of these initiatives—and many more—are people, each with unique distinction, living in an extraordinary manner, believing inside that what they do is important.

If purpose and meaning are jeopardized, our souls sink under a weight of desperation and despondency until we are able to determine what makes us special. While there is the option to grasp wildly at what is temporal and worldly in order to sate our craving for distinction, the need to live extraordinarily is given to us by God.

This is as true for organizations as it is for individuals. In fact, if an organization does not possess a common purpose, it exhibits dis-organization. If purpose is not clearly defined, when the organization is stressed, the people scatter like a flushed covey of quail.

Whether individually or as a group, we need a purpose that is clear and compelling. There must be something sounding a clarion call deep in our breasts, a drum issuing a distinct rhythm to which we march, a cause compelling us to sacrifice ourselves in a noble and honorable endeavor unattainable through safety and selfishness. That “something” is called purpose.

As followers of Jesus Christ, here is a sample purpose statement: Our purpose is to know Jesus Christ, see ourselves as He sees us, live as He intended, and effectively share the same with others.

Let’s test this statement. It sounds good, but is it robust enough to convey our true purpose?

Knowing Jesus Christ is distinct from knowing about Him. When I am introduced as a speaker, or an author, or a leadership guide people know about me based upon my biography. But compare a conference attendee or client saying they know me to my wife, Dianne, saying she knows me.

Lots of people know about me, but Dianne knows me. She knows my hopes and dreams, my aspirations, my disappointments, what motivates my highs and lows, my joys and heartbreaks, my visions, and my muddlings.

To know Jesus Christ, as Paul referenced in Philippians (3:10), means that I know what makes Him tick as opposed to His biographical information. It is our purpose to know Christ personally, not just to know about Him.

When we say, it is our purpose to see ourselves as He sees us, we are expressing determination to step outside of our biased opinion of ourselves, based upon whatever earthly sources have given us noteworthy feedback, and see ourselves from Christ’s perspective. Ultimately, a life lived with distinction must have clarity regarding meaning.

What does it mean to be me? Who am I? Why do I matter, and why am I valuable?

There are any number of opinions about how to answer these questions, and all of us have listened to hosts of advisors expound their ideas concerning us. Yet this renders anything but clarity.

Most of us invest inordinate effort trying to please others, being people we are not, and grasping at illusive solutions to meaning while in pursuit of dreams not our own. The world, and all it offers, simply does not possess the capacity to define personal meaning in adequate fashion to satisfy the longing in our souls.

This being the case, it is our purpose to discover what God thinks of us and vow to see ourselves as He sees us. Anything short of this ideal falls short of grace.

And once we catch a glimpse of what God thinks of us, it follows that our purpose must be to live as He intended for us to live. He thought of us, designed us, loved us, sought us, died for us, redeemed us, and called us His own. Given this amount of effort, surely He must have a plan for how we live, and indeed He does.

It is our Father’s intention that we live as He lives. From before the foundations of the universe were laid, He determined that we should be in Him (Eph. 1:4). Said another way: God determined never to do anything apart from us. Whatever journey God has embarked upon, He has included us, even in His journey to the cross, the grave, and resurrected glory. In a volume of sixty-six books, He has compiled a Bible to describe what it means to be part of His life.

God intends for us to live life the same way He lives His. When we purpose to live as He intended, we make it a supreme, over-arching priority for Him to be our life.

This is more profound than including Him in our lives. He gave up everything in a divine gamble to communicate His desire to have us as His own and to reconcile us to Himself. Such is the nature of His love, and such is the capacity of the love He has placed in our hearts. As Paul stated in his speech from the Areopagus in Athens, “In Him we live and move and exist” (Acts 17:28). It is our purpose to live as He intended, i.e. dependent upon Him. His journey with us, and our journey with Him, are intended to be expressions of His life.

In light of these things, it is our purpose to effectively share with others what we have discovered to be true. In other words, discovering personal meaning in life must be inclusive of sharing our lives with others.

Opening your soul for another’s examination is a scary proposition. However, if we see in ourselves what God sees in us, we will recognize that we are absolutely secure in Him. As people blessed by His regenerative touch and secure in His acceptance, we are free to share with others through personal transparency. In this distinct way, we encourage others to personalize what otherwise is only principle.

To this point, I have primarily written in plural pronouns, i.e. our, ours, we, etc. More pointedly, what is your unique contribution? What do you bring to the task at hand that no one else brings?

Answer: You bring yourself.

We all have the opportunity to know Christ, to see ourselves as He sees us, and to live as Christ intended, but only you can do this for yourself. If you fail in this purpose, you rob everyone around you of the opportunity to see your unique expression of the life of Christ in you.

Not only did Christ live a life of dependence upon His Father, He also insisted upon sharing His life with those He loved.

He was determined to effectively share His relationship with God with His disciples, and He was troubled when they missed His overture (ref. Matthew 26:36-46). Their failure to value or comprehend what Jesus brought to them left Jesus open to the devil’s assertion that He and His work didn’t matter, that He and His life were without purpose. Yet, Christ persisted, not for the sake of His disciples, per se, but in respect for the purpose given to Him by God.

Our lives must be characterized by the same commitment. To journey through life with our treasure of life in Christ locked away in the confines of our heart misses the purpose of effectively sharing with others. Personal transparency is a portrait of distinction.

What is our purpose?

It is to know Jesus Christ, see ourselves as He sees us, live as He intended, and effectively share the same with others.

If adopted, this will fulfill our search for meaning and ensure that we live lives of distinction.

And now...

To read more on this subject, may I refer you to other blogs I've written under the topics of "effectiveness," "significance," and "spiritual development." Here is the menu. In addition, if you would like a guide to follow, may I refer you to my novel, No Mercy. The main character, Hank Henderson, will take you with him to where your heart desires to go.